Food and Coffins

There are a variety of different schools of thought when it comes to feng shui.  I practice Compass School Feng Shui, which is directly connected to the compass directions of the earth.  Under the Compass School, there are two kinds of feng shui.  I am certified in Yang House Feng Shui, which is feng shui for the living.  But there is also what is known as Yin House Feng Shui; feng shui for the deceased.   Consultants certified in Yin House work primarily with funeral homes and cemeteries in planning the ideal environment for rest of the dead, as well as creating a serene place for the living to deal with the departure and separation of loved ones. This also includes finding the right coffin for the individual, as this is the main environment for the deceased’s body.

There are many cultures and individuals who have very distinct plans for the type of coffin they would like.  On my recent trip to San Francisco, I visited the De Young Museum and was astounded by what I saw around a corner:  A coffin in the shape of a cocoa pod.   Beginning in the 1950’s in the Accra section of Ghana, an artist and craftsman by the name of Seth Kane Kwei began making custom coffins, each specified to the wishes of its future occupant.  The cocoa pod below was commissioned from Kwei in 1970, when Ghana was one of the world’s leading cocoa distributors.   The one pictured below is on permanent display at the De Young.

Each one is made using various soft woods native to Ghana, and then formed into a cylinder-canoe shape.  Artisans then craft the vessel using European furniture construction techniques to the client’s specifications, taking sometimes three months to complete.  Each coffin is upholstered inside, usually with satin or velvet.  And many of these coffins are food or food-related items, the most popular being onions, cocoa pods, fish, chickens and boats.   The Southbank Centre in London has many of these unique coffins on display, although some are of British origin.   On display is a replica of a yet-to-be-used coffin, commissioned by a woman who wants to spend eternity inside an egg.   I love the symbolism of rebirth and purity that both the egg and the cocoa pod represent.   Unlike most of its counterparts, this one is made of elm.

Below is another version of the cocoa pod coffin, but in shades of yellow and green.  I love the symbolism that each of these caskets offers.  For example, the onion (pictured at top) was revered by the ancient Egyptians.  They believed that the various layers of the onion symbolized eternal life, sometimes burying Pharaohs and other royals with the revered vegetable.

Photos Courtesy of the Southbank Centre, London

For the wine connoisseur, this a large cork coffin, complete with a wine opener sticking out.  This was commissioned by the County of  Cork in Ireland.

This next  model looks pretty traditional from the outside, but it was the inside that moved me.  While I do not condone having coffins in one’s home under normal feng shui guidelines, I couldn’t help but be enamored with the Vinters Vessel.  Made by The Old Pine Box Company of Edgewood, New Mexico, they offer a beautiful all pine coffin with a wine rack inside.  The lower two-thirds of the box houses nineteen bottles of wine, and top third used as storage space for glasses.  When needed as a funerary box, the inside framework can be removed to create a free standing wine rack, so that one’s wine collection may be displayed.  Each casket comes with a hand-painted emblem with grapes and the Latin phrase  Sono Meus Vita, meaning Celebrate My Life.  This coffin retails for about $1400.00.   For more information, please check out their website   If  one wants to place this beautiful box inside their home, I suggest either a wine cellar or library, but make sure that it’s always filled with wine, and kept free of dust.

The Vinter’s Vessel.  Photo Courtesy of The Old Pine Box Company

As for myself, I’m not sure what kind of coffin – if any – I’ll be acquiring yet.  But if I had to select a food-shaped one, I would probably go with a man-sized bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais,  mostly due to the delicious taste of the wine and the prettiness of the label.